How to fall back asleep

May 31, 2010 | My Jottings

I usually don’t have any trouble falling asleep at night. Getting up between 5:00 and 5:30 a.m. helps with this – by 8:00 p.m. I’m yawning and starting to turn into a pumpkin. I’m usually propped up in bed by 9:00 with something to read, and the hypnotic effect of my eyes tracking back and forth, back and forth across the pages of my book usually puts me to sleep within ten minutes.

What has become an issue for me is staying asleep. Women readers past the age of forty-five will most likely have experienced this. Most doctors call this middle-of-the-nighttime wakefulness “menopausal sleep disturbances,” and while it’s nice to be able to call it something official, it’s still unfortunate to be dead tired and awake, and unable to go back to sleep at 3:30 a.m.

I’ve tried various things to help myself go back to sleep. One: sometimes I pray. But often I then start thinking about all the things that are heavy on my heart and lying there in the dark of night silently talking about them isn’t conducive to good slumber. I know that prayer should bring peace and that I’m supposed to be leaving my concerns with Jesus when I pray, but somehow when I’m exhausted and listening to Edith the Schnauzer snore and I know I have to get up and function well in a couple of hours, prayer just makes me more wakeful.

The second thing I’ve tried is scripture memorization. I have tried going over the verses that the SAGs have worked on together, and I like this activity and feel it’s a productive way to fill a few sleepless hours, not to mention that it’s the way to renew my mind. But sometimes I want to make sure I’m getting the passage right, and then I feel the need to take the tiny flashlight in my nightstand drawer and look at the index card the verse is written on. Sometimes I can do this without waking Michael, other times not. So I haven’t tried this activity in quite a long while.

Sometimes when I can’t sleep I just get up and go downstairs and read the morning paper online. Or I might write a blog post on sleeplessness, Schnauzers or stuffed baked potatoes.

Sometimes I’ve resorted to taking pills. I heard a long time ago that many people just take Benadryl when they need a little help falling or staying asleep. It’s an allergy medication that makes you drowsy. I tried it and it worked. But since I don’t need the allergy medication, now I just buy the pills that have the drowsy-making medication and not the allergy ingredients. Here’s what I occasionally take and it works well – rarely do I wake up and stay awake if I’ve taken two of these.

For the past couple of months I’ve tried another tactic and while it’s a long and meandering path back to sleep, it’s simple and can sometimes be pleasant. I try slowly counting my respirations, beginning at the number seventy-three, going backwards. Don’t ask me why I start at seventy-three — it was just the number that popped into my head one sleepless night as I was trying to figure out what to do about being awake yet again. I guess seventy-three was better than a hundred, in my mind. You might think ninety-one or sixty-four is the number you should start with when you’re lying wide awake at night, and I totally support you in this.

What happens when I start silently counting backwards is always a surprise — I never know where I’ll end up. The only sure thing (at least so far) is that I will fall asleep before I ever get to “three, two, one, zero.”

It goes something like this. I wake up again after a few hours of good, solid sleep. But it’s 2:42 or 3:17 a.m. and I don’t want to get up yet. And I would like to sleep a little more, so I’ll have the ability to be somewhat friendly in the morning and throughout the approaching day. So instead of counting those proverbial sheep, I begin to count my breaths. Slowly inhale, exhale — seventy-three…seventy-two…seventy-one, seventy, sixty-nine, sixty-eight…hmmm…1968 was the year I was in sixth grade and Miss Nancy Curry was my teacher…I remember that kelly green knit sleeveless shift she used to wear, the one with the bone colored stripes up the side of the dress, and how she wore a bone colored bow in her hair too. I remember she wore cinnamon colored nylons which was the trend then and you don’t see anymore. She taught us about South America that year and she pronounced Venezuela Ven-soo-AY-la….sixty-nine…wait, was I at sixty-nine or sixty-eight? I can’t remember, better start back in the seventies so I’ll make sure I don’t skip a number…seventy, sixty-nine, sixty-eight, sixty-seven, sixty-five…oh, that was the year my brother graduated from high school – he was eighteen and I was eight — I hope he’s okay right now – Lord please touch him and help him…sixty-five, sixty-four, sixty-three, sixty-two, sixty-one…I cannot believe Michael is sixty-one years old. It seems like just yesterday he was my handsome 32 year-old groom and now next year we will celebrate our thirtieth wedding anniversary…thirty, twenty-nine, no! wait! I was in the sixties I think…. which number was it? I’d better start at sixty-nine again. Sixty-nine, sixty-eight, sixty-seven, sixty-six, I always seem to forget what number I’m on as I breathe in, breathe out, but it’s relaxing and I’ll probably fall asleep again before I get to zero.  Oh yes – our thirtieth wedding anniversary – where should we go to celebrate? I would love to visit the Alpine countries – I would love to hear cowbells on Swiss slopes and listen to some yodeling, or even visit Salzburg where The Sound of Music was filmed. I love that movie – I wish life was more like that movie. I wish I could be more like Julie Andrews – kind and gentle and innocent and lovely. I would like to sing and dance with my daughters in front of the villa like that too. Sigh. Sixty-one. Oh where was I? I think it was sixty-six. Breathing slowly – inhale, exhale. Sixty-five, sixty-four, sixty-three, sixty-two, sixty-one, oh I remember now I’ve counted to sixty-one because I thought about Michael. Sixty, fifty-nine, fifty-eight, I think that’s when Lorna was born…fifty-seven, isn’t there a classic Chevrolet with fins from 1957? I think the Langs next door had one. I know my parents never drove Chevrolets and always preferred Buicks. I remember the beige colored LeSabre station wagon we had – it was a 1963 model and its license plate was black and yellow, and that was before California went to the dark blue and yellow license plates. I remember our first blue and yellow license plate but that was on our 1970 Buick LeSabre – the green one that wasn’t a station wagon. Fifty-six, fifty-five. It’s so strange that I can remember the license plate from that green LeSabre – 889 BIX. My mom even drove that for a while after she moved to Morro Bay. And I can recall part of my grandpa and grandma’s license plate on their 1960 black Cadillac – JBP but I can’t remember the three numbers to that one. Larry’s little blue VW he brought home from Germany eventually had a California plate that said TRF 043. Fifty-four, fifty-three, fifty-two – I can’t believe I’m fifty-two years old…oh yes I can when I look in the mirror. Fifty-one, fifty, forty-nine, wasn’t there something about a gold rush in a year that ended in 49? I’ll have to look that up. I loved living in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Gold Country. I wonder if our little three-room trailer on the Yuba River in Smartville is still there? It was eight feet by forty-eight feet and I played Fleetwood Mac all the time and ironed lots of military uniforms in it. I’ll look on Google Earth tomorrow to see if I can find it. Where was I? Inhale, exhale. Fifty-nine? I know I was in the fifties. There was the two-tone car with the fins…maybe I’m in the forties. I’ll start at fifty again to make sure I don’t miss a number. Fifty, forty-nine, forty-eight, forty-seven, forty-six, forty-five, forty-four – wasn’t that Jerry West’s jersey number when he played for the LA Lakers? I think so. And I wonder why they call the Boston Celtics Celtics with a soft sounding C instead of the hard C that we always use nowadays for the word Celtic. I wonder if Michael and I should go to Ireland for our thirtieth anniversary? He would love that. We need to spend more time there this time and see more than just Dublin. Oh, that Bed and Breakfast in Dublin was so cold…brrrr. Thirty, twenty-nine – no! I’m in the forties! Was it forty-seven? Probably not. Forty-three, forty-two — I hated that movie, The Summer of Forty-Two — just too sad….Inhale slowly, exhale slowly…

And I don’t think I’ve ever gotten down to the thirties yet before I’ve fallen fast asleep once again.

So if any of you need a practical method to help you fall back to sleep at night, try counting your breaths backwards, starting at seventy-three.

Let me know how this works for you.

Haven of rest

May 25, 2010 | My Jottings

Michael and I need like to get away every several weeks so we can have some quiet time, some sleeping past 5:30 a.m. time, some reading in front of a fire time. A few weeks ago we went in the middle of the week to someplace we’d never been before, where we rented a cabin right on the brink of Lake Superior. It wasn’t far from home but it seemed like a world away. We turned off of Highway 61 when we saw this sign, and drove down a dirt road toward the big lake.

We were pleasantly surprised when we saw that our cabin was perched among some trees, right on the edge of Lake Superior. Less than a stone’s throw from the water. Closer than that, even. Close enough to sneeze on.

That afternoon and most of the night, the rain poured from the sky and the wind whipped up the lake and brought huge, crashing waves on the rocks below our windows.  In the morning the clouds began to lift and we could see the sun in the east over Lake Superior.

It was wonderful spending the day inside. Michael found something he loves to do but I don’t have the patience for:

And I found something I love to do that Michael doesn’t have the patience for: these are my relaxed feet propped up on the arm of the couch, and that is my Kindle, which can hold one thousand books.

We loved being in our cabin with a cozy fire crackling in the fireplace. We treated ourselves to a couple of these little bottles too:

We took turns in this gliding rocking chair by the window. Did I mention that right outside was the biggest fresh water lake in the world?  We love that lake. We live close to that lake. We’d like to live even closer someday.

A photo of favorites — favorite socks, favorite shoes, favorite man.

When the rain stopped the next day, we went to Gooseberry Falls and the visitor center there. I bought some bird bookmarks and two CDs, one of which I am now playing compulsively (but quietly) each night in our bedroom as we go to sleep. At the Gooseberry Center is a huge, stuffed Timberwolf. We have lots of these in our part of the country:

Michael explored the rocky shore right outside our cabin. He has always loved to hunt for agates.

Our last evening there we ate dinner at the Grand Superior Lodge, which is quintessentially Minnesotan in every way possible.

The menu was full of wonderful meals made with Minnesota things, like pink lingonberry butter to spread on dense homemade wild rice bread, fresh-catch walleye, and venison. I ordered apple brandied chicken stuffed with Brie, sprinkled with fresh herbs, pecans and cranberries, and maple syruped sweet potatoes. It was unique and eye-rollingly delicious.

Michael loves walleyed pike, one of the best tasting fresh water fish in the world. He fishes for walleye whenever he can, “winter, spring, summer or fall, all you have to do is call, and he’ll be there, yes he will, he wants a walleye,” and orders it often when we go out for dinner. His walleye came with Minnesota wild rice pilaf, and everything was cooked to perfection.

Michael wanted dessert and ordered a frozen chocolate mousse with raspberry coulis and sprinkled with ground pistachios. He loved it; I had a bite and thought it was okay. I would have been fine with a few miniature Reese’s cups.

When we were getting ready to head home I asked Michael if he thought he could live in a two-bedroom cabin like the one we stayed in. He didn’t take more than a half-second to say yes.

Where do you go when you need to rest and refresh?

Guest Blogger – Tauni!

May 18, 2010 | My Jottings

I asked my friend Tauni if she would share something for the blog and I think you’ll be blessed by what she sent me yesterday. Tauni lives by the ocean in Southern California, is married to Curt, has two grown children, Shannon and Jared, and a darling toddler grandson named Ben.  Enjoy…

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Tauni and Curt

The way God works in my life never ceases to amaze me. Day by day I have learned to open my heart to His wonders anew and truly allow myself to be blessed, even in the dark and twisted places where I sometimes find myself. However, it has not always been this way. A brief encounter with an acquaintance at work forever altered the way I choose to live my life.

In June 2003 I was struggling emotionally, physically and financially. I found myself fretting, worrying, wondering and many times feeling very angry and depressed because of my circumstances. It was really hard to see God’s hand in anything, let alone working in my life.

One day I requested one of the employees at work to come to my office as I had a question on the time sheet I was processing for her.  She stopped by, we discussed the issue and she left closing the door behind her. A few minutes later there was a soft knock and as she opened the door asked if I had a couple of minutes because she had to share something with me. She shared that God had told her to talk to me over a month ago and she had kept fighting it, had been “arguing” with Him if you will. When she left my office after our work discussion she felt convicted about ignoring Him and she knew she could not avoid it any longer so she came back. She told me of a vision and a prophesy God had given her specifically for me. In summary, she shared with me that God wanted me to know that He has a plan for my life; that the plan was to prosper me. She told me that Jeremiah 29:11 was His message to me. That He would bless me immeasurably, that I would indeed be very prosperous. I was overwhelmed with all the things she said. As I think about it now, if felt like a whirlwind blowing through my office around me and then out the door. I shared briefly what I had been recently going through and thanked her for coming back. She stated, “That is not all.” I took a deep breath and said, “Ok.”  She then shared that God also wanted me to know that Satan had asked to “sift” me (see Luke 22:31) as wheat. That no matter what my circumstances were, I was to give Him (God) praise; to stand on His promise and remember it. After a few more minutes of talking together and a prayer she left.

Since I had never had someone prophesy to me, about me, over me, I was a bit skeptical about the whole situation. And, while I was really excited about the “prosper” part, I was not so excited about the “sifting” part. However, the more I pondered the encounter the more confident I felt that God was indeed talking to me.

One might think the “sifting” part would be the most difficult thing to cope with in this situation, at least I thought it would be. However, I found through the years that the “prosper” part has brought the biggest challenge. When the “sifting” began I learned how to recognize it for the most part and praised God. It is now so automatic I don’t even think about it. It has taught me to slow down, take a deep breath and watch God work, and work He does; in some of the most amazing ways.

God continues to lead me on an interesting journey to the prosperity part. In the beginning I found myself looking at everything from the perspective of potential prosperity and was always met with disappointment after disappointment. As time goes by, God has used those disappointments and His Word to open my eyes to the limitations of my human comprehension and the fact that He is limitless. Examples of how God works beyond human limitations are found throughout scripture, in the lives of Job, Joseph, Moses, and Saul of Tarsus, for example. But the example that most resonates with me is Sarah, Abraham’s wife. I can understand Sarah’s frustration of not conceiving a child after God told her she would. Often I found myself wanting to “help” God, much in the way Sarah “helped” him when she offered Hagar, her maidservant, to Abraham as a way to give him the children God promised him. In other words, not fully understanding God’s ways led her to believe she had a better way, which turned out disastrous. I have had many “Sarah moments” in my life, feeling the need to do something, anything, out of sheer frustration at the waiting, and having it turn out disastrous.

I have discerned some recurring themes through this journey. The first is the waiting time.  Scripture tells of years and sometimes decades (even centuries) passing between the time of God’s initial promise and the ultimate fulfillment of that promise. I understand the depth of doubt people fought as year after year went by without the promise fulfilled; doubting the integrity of God and doubting the love of God, wanting to just take control because God seemed to be taking so long.

The second is the growing time. Scripture also speaks of the process of growing integrity and character through events that occur. As I look back on my life over the past seven years I see how my integrity and character have been challenged to grow through each event that has occurred.  Coping with consequences of my choices has taught me to examine and evaluate my motives and how my actions affect the people I love and others around me. Third, through the waiting and growing times, God is still there. He speaks, I have to be still and listen. And finally, God always keeps his promises.

One step at a time I am learning how to deal with my “Sarah moments.”  At the time of this writing I have not yet seen the fulfillment of the promise of prosperity; on the contrary, I am struggling more now in many ways than in June of 2003. But it has ceased to be important. Recognizing that God sees the whole parade and I see just what is in front of me, I am focused on God’s process, listening to God’s voice and learning His ways, making the most of the waiting and growing times so that when God’s promise is fulfilled in His time, I will have the integrity, character and humility to handle it as a King’s kid, all the while praising Him!

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Coming soon to a blog near you

May 16, 2010 | My Jottings

Very soon, my dear childhood (and adulthood) friend Tauni will be a guest blogger here at Just Julie. Tauni and I have known each other for over 45 years now, and you can read a little more about her right here.

Another dear friend was a guest blogger a while back too – I would read anything Diane Aro wrote, and if you haven’t read this yet, you’ll appreciate “Pride Cometh Before a Zip.”

Tauni flew from Southern California last summer to visit us here in the north woods. I was so inspired by our time together. Perhaps no other person I know has taught me more about forgiveness, humility, and guileless living as Tauni has. Just by her example, I am constantly challenged to walk out my Christian life in truer, kinder and more loving ways. Every time I talk with her on the phone or exchange emails with her, I come away having learned something new, or having been encouraged in practical ways. So I asked Tauni if she would be my second guest blogger, and she graciously agreed.

In a day or two I’ll be posting whatever she has decided to share, and I know it will be a blessing. Don’t miss it!


Neti Pot Basics

May 13, 2010 | My Jottings

If you know what a neti pot is, you probably either love them or they disgust you so thoroughly you gag when you hear the words neti pot even uttered.

For the few who might not know what a neti pot is, here is a photo and a definition:

Historically, neti pots were used in India, to assist in clearing the nasal passages. The neti pot was introduced to the West approximately thirty years ago, and today many people in the West have taken up a modified type of neti practice called Jala Neti (water neti) using a neti pot.

The use of a neti pot requires mixing up a saline solution that will be poured through the nasal passages. A typical saline solution is a mixture of around one pint of water with a teaspoon of salt. In modern times, saline nasal irrigation (SNI) has become more widely accepted as a home remedy to relieve conditions such as allergies (hay fever), colds and mild sinus infections.

If you’re curious you can see a demonstration of someone using a neti pot by clicking right here. Also essential to neti pot basics is keeping your neti pot clean.

Anyway, I know people who have used neti pots with great results, and I myself have used one; once I got over the initial feeling of drowning (which goes away after you’ve used it a couple of times and understand what’s happening to the water) I found the clear-breathing feeling afterward quite refreshing.

My son-in-law Jeremy has allergies and I thought he’d be a perfect candidate for a neti pot, so I bought him one. He used it now and then and did get relief.

Here comes the part of the story that is not for the faint of heart. In fact, if you gag easily you might want to just move on now to the next blog you planned on reading today.

Not long ago Jeremy felt like he was coming down with a sinus infection. Having used his neti pot in the past with good results, he decided to nip this issue in the bud and try irrigating his sinuses as a first line of defense.

When Carolyn found out that he had done this, she winced and said, “You probably don’t want to know where that neti pot has been.”

Oh dear. Guess where it had been?

Before I tell you that, I’ll show you the Neti Pot Culprit. This is 2 1/2 year old Audrey. She is the sweetest little girl. She loves to call Michael Bocka instead of Grandpa. She used to call me Backa instead of Grandma, but now she expertly says Grandma. So when she comes over, she runs into my arms and squeals to us both, “Hi Bocka! Hi Grandma!” Bocka and Grandma: not what I had thought we’d be called, but we’re good with it.

Audrey – sometimes we call her “The Auds”

Audrey is an inquisitive, busy child who loves to explore. She likes to smear cold cream on upholstered furniture, enjoys breaking eggs by the dozen on the kitchen floor to see what they’ll feel like under bare feet, and thinks water is the funnest thing to splash and play in.

Audrey found Daddy’s neti pot and thought it would be so fun to scoop some water into it and pour it out on places in the house that badly needed watering.

But here’s where the Auds got the water to put in the neti pot:

Are you gagging yet? I truly hope not. I would hate to have my blog labeled The Blog That Makes People Gag.

But now you know what happened, don’t you? Jeremy used his neti pot to irrigate his sinuses, after Audrey had used it to scoop out some water from a place other than the sink. And in no time, Jeremy’s sinus infection got worse. Alarmingly worse. Ragingly worse. The infection quickly traveled up to his eyes, the appearance of which gave new meaning to the word bloodshot. Of course he saw a doctor. Thank God for antibiotics – he’s well now.

Audrey, Jeremy and the Neti Pot Adventure notwithstanding, have you ever used a neti pot? If so, what were the results?

Edition 39-Wednesday’s Word

May 12, 2010 | My Jottings

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.

Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.

But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians chapter 13

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This is what I’m thinking and praying about today. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever truly see these words worked out in my life.

Bet you’ve never seen this before…

May 10, 2010 | My Jottings

I’m going to show you something on the blog today that I’m willing to bet you’ve never laid eyes on before. It’s a photo of a gift my grandchildren gave to me for Mother’s Day this year. I honestly don’t think anyone on earth has ever received a gift just like this before. So really, history was made at my house on Mother’s Day.

By the way, I hope if you’re a mother, you had a nice Mother’s Day and that those you’ve birthed and/or raised showed their love to you in some way. I feel very blessed to have received thoughtful gifts and cards from all three of my daughters, and a card from my husband that brought tears.

What I didn’t expect was a present from the grandbabies. When Carolyn came over to wish me a happy day, she brought a little something from Clara, Elijah, Vivienne and Audrey. Their daddy Jeremy helped them with it. Here’s what it looked like on the outside:

If you’ve saved dozens of Christmas cookie tins for years and wondered what to do with them during other seasons, please know that you can use them to wrap Mother’s Day gifts if you like. I thought it was original and chuckleworthy.

Here’s what was inside this little tin:

Absolutely delicious, homemade shortbread cookies that say WWG. If you don’t know or can’t remember what W.W.G. stands for, you can click here and read all about it.

I am well aware that W.W.G. won’t always be a part of my life, or my grandchildren’s, although Mr. McBoy assures me that when he is married and has a family, he will still want to come over to Grandma’s house for W.W.G. We’ll see what his wife thinks about that.

Now tell me true, have you ever seen any shortbread cookies with WWG on them before?

Here and there

May 7, 2010 | My Jottings

I enjoy perusing different online design sites now and then. I really like to peek at the creativity of others. You might want to check out Holly Mathis Interiors, and recently I happened upon a wonderful site called The Inspired Room that was very fun to browse. If you decide to visit The Inspired Room, be sure to click on the tab titled My House, and you’ll see where I got the inspiration for my post today. I loved looking at the views of Melissa’s favorite areas and pieces in her home. Yesterday I went around my own house and took some photos of a few things I love and thought I’d share them with you today. All the photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

These hang on the side of a kitchen cabinet near the sink. My mother, Virginia Sooter, painted several of these in the early 1960s, after taking just one painting class. She was musical and artistic and they remind me of her every day.

I like a lot of different kinds of furniture, but always seem to choose more traditional pieces, especially chairs and couches with rolled arms and backs.

This is the corner I see in my office when I sit at the computer. The shades are closed here because the sun was streaming in, and you can see one of the words I've put up on the walls in here. People have said the office seems very beachy/cottagey.

I like whimsical things too. These sit on the fireplace mantel in our bedroom - a velvet pumpkin pin cushion from Sara, and two rats I bought in a little gift shop. What? You don't decorate with rats? Maybe that will be the title to my next blog: Decorating With Rats. I think New Yorkers would love it.

This is one of the sheer curtain panels hanging in the living room in front of our window seat. I like how easy they are to slide.

Coming down the stairs, there's an old window that looks from the foyer into the den.

My friend Su knows I love blues and whites for my kitchen and she gave me this little pitcher for a Christmas ornament. I decided not to pack it away but to hang it from a kitchen cabinet to enjoy year round.

Under the stairs that lead to the third floor is this little door. Grandchildren are always intrigued with it.

Some fresh flowers simply arranged in milk glass -- a recent gift from Sara to brighten up my office.

C.S. Lewis's Aslan graces the top drawers in our kitchen

This is one of the upholstered chairs in our living room

"Just how many cardinals do you have in your house, Grandma?" This one is in the living room over the door that leads to the kitchen.

Part of our master bathroom. I love pedestal sinks. The mirror is old and belonged to Michael's parents. The metal glass makes the water taste good. 🙂

A blue thistle arrangement done by Sara, in a small pitcher on our kitchen table. The pretty serving tray was a gift from my friend Su.

Oiled bronze fixtures were chosen for our downstairs bathroom.

This is the pretty stained glass window on the landing between the second and third floor.

What was I going to do with all the saucers that came with the blue and white cups in my collection? Why not hang them on the wall around the doorway that leads to the living room?

This is the tiny little stained glass window in our entry way.

We have a slightly more masculine wallpaper and light in our dressing room, just off the master bedroom which has been accused of toile overload. 🙂

I call this our Alice in Wonderland doorknob - it's on a small hallway linen closet

Our kitchen island with a butcher block top -- I painted it dark blue and whitewashed and sanded it to age it a little, then added some Delft knobs I found on ebay.

A very rusty little gate hangs in the entry way

In the fall the chimney will be quaintly covered with thick climbing ivy, turning orange and red. Each spring it begins its three-story climb, and reaches the top of the chimney in less than five months. I think this is a little scary so I pull it down to the ground every fall. I like the iron detailing outside the third floor window but would never put a chair out there.

The carved detail around our living room fireplace

In our downstairs bathroom there is no wall space, so we decided to put art on the floor by installing a leafy, slightly textured vinyl.

This is the little table that sits between our two bedroom chairs. Sara's floral creations often show up as little surprises here and there.

Our house will most likely be for sale within the year. Keep that in mind if you know of anyone who needs a big old house with a creek in the yard, a few characteristic nooks and crannies, and room in which to grow.

What are some of your favorite places and/or things in your house? If you send me your photos I’ll put them on the blog.

Best wishes from our home to yours,

May’s winner – Kay!

My Jottings

Kay is the bloggy winner for this month’s giveaway! Since Kay has already read and loved No Compromise, she chose A Girl of the Limberlost for her prize, a book she hasn’t heard of until now. Maybe she’ll write a little review of it for us after she’s done.  🙂  Congratulations, Kay!

Kay’s description of the book she last read made me reserve it at my library immediately. I can’t wait to read the other books you all mentioned, too. Thanks for your comments everyone!

Our afternoon forecast today calls for one to two inches of snow.

Yay and boo. Yay because we have had very little precipitation for weeks, boo because it’s May 7th for goodness sake.

Have a wonderful weekend,

May Giveaway!

May 4, 2010 | My Jottings

We’ve had an unusual couple of months in northern Minnesota, with record-breaking warmth and record-setting dryness. Apparently April was the first April ever without a single flake of snow to fall. Since there hasn’t been much snow to melt and run off into the rivers and streams that feed our huge lake, Lake Superior’s average water level has dropped a little rather than risen as it normally does in spring.

Nevertheless, this morning as I write this I can hear the distinct song of a male cardinal outside my office window, the daffodils are showing off in the front yard, and the grass is going to need its first mowing very soon. Yesterday Michael and I picked our way across the little creek in our back yard so he could show me a dead raccoon he’d found, laying on its side and almost completely blending in with the fallen leaves in the woods. We didn’t get too close since I’m convinced all raccoons in our vicinity are rabid. Also, huge crows have taken to casually strolling in our yard again, just like they did last year when we had our baby bunny excitement. I am not a crow fan and am certain they’re up to no good, probably patrolling for newborn rodents or watching for unattended bird nests where hatchlings await their next worms from mama.

It’s time for another bloggy giveaway, to celebrate the fading of winter and the coming of spring.

This month’s winner will be able to choose one of two books – two of my very favorite reads that I think I should pick up again very soon.

This month’s bloggy winner can pick from:

1.  No Compromise – The Life Story of Keith Green by Melody Green

Keith Green was a passionate, gifted young man whose music and message touched many lives. Michael and I still love his music. I have read this book written by his widow Melody Green three times; once out loud with my daughter Sara when we were homeschooling years ago.

I have a sweet memory of us sitting on the couch while huge snowflakes drifted down right outside the window, reading aloud and both of us wiping tears. At the end of almost every chapter Sara would ask, “Mom, will you please read another chapter, pleeeease?”

2. A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter 

This is a book that my friend Carole Seid recommended to us, also during our homeschooling years. I remember being swept away by the descriptive language and the innocence and the grief and the wonder and the winsomeness and the pure beauty of this story.

I recall that one of my friends was so moved by this book that she half-jokingly announced to her friends, “You have to read this book if you want to continue being friends with me.” We all knew she didn’t mean that literally, but what we did understand was that this book so epitomized the essence of how she wanted to live, that reading it would say more about her heart and dreams than all the words she could try to express herself.

If you’ve already read these books, you could still enter the giveaway and if you win, one of these would make a great gift for someone.

All you have to do is leave a comment and answer this:

What book have you read recently? What did you like or dislike about it?

Comments will be taken until Friday morning at 8:00 and the winner will be announced soon after.

Happy spring and happy reading!